Opposition to focus on economic issues: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

A. M. Jigeesh | | Updated on: Nov 28, 2021
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Will reach out to TMC, poll strategists a threat to democracy, says leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha

The “victory” of farmers’ protests has rejuvenated the Opposition camp ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament beginning on Monday. The leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the priority of the Opposition will be to raise in Parliament the economic issues that have an impact on the livelihoods of people.

He is worried about the Trinamool Congress’s (TMC) “poaching” spree of unhappy Congress leaders, but is confident of bringing every Opposition party on board for a coordinated floor strategy during the session. In an interview to BusinessLine, the veteran MP, apparently attacking Prashant Kishore, said the new culture of “poll strategists” is a threat to the democracy of the country and to the political morality. Excerpts from the interview:

What is the lesson the Opposition has learnt from the farmers’ protests?

The current political scenario in the country is dominated by farmers and workers. Farmers have carved out a message for the country. Since the protests of the farmers begun, we, the Congress, extended all our ideological, political and agitational support to them. Rahul Gandhi himself participated in tractor rallies in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and various other States. A group of Congress MPs joined the Kisan Sansad with him. Rahul Gandhi heard their stand patiently even without sharing their podium. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has instructed us that there should be no letup in raising the issues of farmers during this session too. We will demand justice for farmers. There should be a legally binding MSP. All fabricated cases against farmers must be withdrawn and the Centre should provide compensation to farmers who died during the agitations.

The Bill to repeal three farm laws is brought in the House to save the face of the Centre before the Assembly elections. The Narendra Modi juggernaut has been stopped by farmers. The voice of farmers defeated the Modi regime. It is a new dimension of Indian politics.

What is going to be the strategy of the Congress inside the House? You had to face criticism even from the Opposition parties for not allowing any business in House over Pegasus during the Monsoon Session

Pegasus was a global issue. BJP may think that it is an insignificant issue. But we think it was a national crime against our privacy and our freedom. The Supreme Court, by ordering a probe, vindicated our position. The apex court lambasted the Centre and the Government is looking for a corner to hide its face.

The Government is trying to confuse the people that the Opposition is not allowing the House to function. But the Government has the primary responsibility over the transaction of any business in the House. All MPs come to Parliament to raise issues of people. We are conveying their problems to the Government so that they can be resolved. But the Government is playing the role of destructor by showing no interest to run the House. Even if we remain silent, they will find a reason to not to allow the House to function. They never tried to take the Opposition into confidence. They never reached out to us. Opposition is an integral part of any democracy. But this government does not believe in Parliamentary democracy, they believe in majoritarian power.

We are in Parliament not to permanently disrupt the proceedings. Our attempt is to raise the issues of Parliament. We have no intention to disrupt Parliament. But the Government, with the help of godi media, is trying to malign our image.

What are the priorities for the Opposition during this session?

The Centre has decided to privatise public sector banks. We will oppose bank privatisation Bills. To hide their untruth face, they are bringing Bills which will destabilise the country and its people. We will oppose any such move as nationalised banks have played a major role in strengthening our economy even during worst recessions in the past. Congress nationalised banks and BJP is de-nationalising all our assets through the National Monetisation Pipeline They are using all weapons of miseries against people.

Price rise is another major issue. On December 12, we will organise a major rally against price rise in Delhi. Increasing fuel prices have further pushed the common man into a crisis. So we will demand a solution for these issues. Issues such as crypto currencies and torrential rains in Southern States will be raised. We will oppose expansion of the jurisdiction of BSF and such anti federal moves.

But how united is the Opposition? A lot of Congress leaders have joined the TMC. Poll strategist Prashant Kishore reportedly played a role in splitting the Congress in Meghalaya. Won’t this impact the Opposition unity inside the House?

When other parties poach people or try to dismantle the Congress, we cannot accept it gracefully. There’s a simmering discontent within the Congress against such attempts. But we will insulate the local politics and ambitions of other Opposition parties from the day-to-day business inside the Parliament in the larger interest of the country and the people. We will reach out all Opposition parties, including the TMC, for coordinated efforts on the floor of the House. But it’s upto the TMC to decide whether they want to join this united efforts against the BJP or take their own decisions. The consultations among Opposition parties have been weakened by this approach of the TMC. BJP will be the incidental beneficiary of such actions of the TMC.

I don’t know and I am sure TMC also does not know what role it has to play in a State like Goa or Meghalaya or elsewhere. The Congress stand is clear that we want a united fight against the BJP.

With the influence of these so-called poll strategists, democratisation is paving way to corporatisation. The worst casuality is political morality. By capitulating everything for the whims and fancies of corporate houses, these strategists are doing a great disservice to the politics of the country. They are nothing but executives who work for huge money. They make a contract wherever they go. They mobilise funds. They buy people. The leaders who left us in Meghalaya now say that they do not face any dearth of funds and they have enough funds at their disposal. This is a serious degradation. This degradation is taking place across the country. The only intention of these strategists is winning an election by whatever means possible. Only winners will be counted! They do not require any lessons from movements such as the farmers’ movement. They think that if they can strike a success with one party, then their rate will go up and their business will flourish. It is a business model. For business interest, they do not care for any political or moral values and they are a threat to our democracy.

Published on November 28, 2021

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